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Clinical research in Chile has experienced a remarkable growth in recent years, consolidating as an important player in the search for new drugs and treatments to improve the health of the population. The conduct of clinical trials in Chile has become a fundamental tool for the development of innovative therapies, but it has also brought  challenges and opportunities that are worth analyzing in depth.

One of the most outstanding aspects of the current state of clinical research in Chile is its growing participation in Phase I, II and III trials. This increase is largely attributed to the active collaboration between academic institutions, research centers and the pharmaceutical industry. The adoption of international quality standards and the growing infrastructure in hospitals and clinical research centers have also strengthened the country’s capacity to conduct high-level clinical studies.

Chile is today an innovation and research hub in Latin America due to its competitive advantages in clinical research: research centers with extensive experience in academia, which generate international trust; a clinical research culture that is the result of more than 30 years of experience; globally competitive regulation; scientific ethics committees accredited under international standards; world-class healthcare infrastructure and a wide network of researchers with experience in clinical research.

Nonetheless, there are significant challenges. One of the most remarkable is the need to increase investment in clinical research. Despite progress, Chile still lags behind the average investment of OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries in this field. According to the latest survey on R&D spending and personnel by the Ministry of Science, in 2020 R&D investment stood at 0.34% of GDP, far below the OECD countries’ average of 2.68% of GDP. Increased funding would allow for more clinical trials and promote cutting-edge research.

Regulation and ethics in clinical research in Chile face dynamic and evolving challenges. As the landscape of clinical studies shifts towards decentralized trials, digitalization, and the utilization of digital tools, the regulatory framework must adapt and update to meet these new demands. Ensuring the safety and integrity of patients and data remains paramount, but this must be balanced with fostering innovation and embracing novel methodologies. This ongoing process requires continuous collaboration among regulatory bodies, healthcare institutions, and researchers to refine regulations that keep pace with the rapid advancements in clinical research, ensuring that Chile remains at the forefront of ethical and effective clinical study practices.

Active patient participation in clinical trials is another issue that deserves attention. Fostering public awareness of the importance of clinical research and promoting the inclusion of diverse populations in studies is essential to ensure that the results are representative and applicable to the general population.

Telemedicine and remote monitoring have increased the relevance in clinical research in Chile, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. These technologies have made it possible to maintain the continuity of clinical trials and facilitate patient recruitment, but they have also brought challenges in terms of data privacy and the quality of the data.

Pharmaceutical innovation not only benefits society as a whole, but also creates opportunities for economic growth and technological development. Clinical research remains as a powerful tool in the search for innovative health solutions, and Chile has an important role to play in this process.

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